So What Happens to 3600 Pounds of Wool?

After shearing where do 523 fleeces go?


People who help at shearing are invited to take  fleece or two home if they wish; this takes care of four or five fleeces. 

Twenty odd chosen fleeces are bagged individually with intent to sell to individual persons.  This is all taken care of by Andrea.  I sell the fleeces to her at the price I would receive through our wool cooperative and she does the leg work from there and keeps her profits. 

There are usually a few fleeces left over that will not fit into the large wool bags and which are not prime for selling.  I will use these as insulation and bedding in the guardian dogs houses and for the cats.  [The dog houses were a success by the way.  Well into the winter we frequently saw the dogs making use of the houses]. 

The bits of wool that litter the area after shearing are taken to our farm dump, the birds can easily pick the wool from there.  I also leave some around the trees at the yard for the birds to make use of. 

The bulk of the wool (17 large bags of it this year) will be trucked by us to a collection depot about an hour away.  Once the collection depot has enough wool to warrant a semi truck, it will be loaded and trucked East to the Canadian Cooperative Wool Growers.  Here the wool is classed and graded.  The wool will be bulked together with similar wool from across the country, and sold on the international wool market. We get paid once this process is complete which will be about nine or ten months from now.  This means we won't recoup the cost of shearing until much later in the year.


I keep two or three fleeces for needle felting.  This is more than enough for me to get through washing in a year.  Sadly there is no commercial wool mill in our province so most fibre goes out of province for processing, unless you're doing it yourself or find a hobbyist to do it for you. 

I have no fancy set up for processing wool.  I wash small amounts in my kitchen sink with the use of a canning pot.  I have an old drum carder and can card wool into small batts.  For my purpose I want wool that is not overly handled and sometimes the less I do with it the better, provided I can get it clean.  I have no skills in spinning, weaving or knitting but I have seen yarn spun from our wool - and I am told it is very nice with a soft whiteness, good for colouring if desired.   

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for the explanation, Arlette. I've wondered what happens to all the fleece, besides what ends up in your beautiful art works. It's an amazing process :-)
    I wish there was the "push or incentive" to use wool (and be affordable) here in the states as there is in the UK. We checked into wool carpet and it is very expensive here in Colorado.

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    1. You're welcome, thanks for asking about it and providing the idea for a post. I wish the same. Here there is also a large gap between those raising sheep (and producing wool) and those who want the stuff. Many producers see wool as something to get rid of, rather than a product of some value.

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  2. Wondering if you've ever used the mill in Carstairs AB. We took our wool there last Oct, and wished we good have visited Dog Tale. Couldn't fit any further eastern travel from Fairbanks.

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    1. No I have not. The lady who bought fleeces this year is going to send some of them to the mill in Carstairs though. I'll try to find out how her experience with it goes.

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